The will of God isn’t rocket science

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
The parable of the Good Samaritan, last Sunday’s Gospel from the tenth chapter of St. Luke, arose from the question asked of Jesus, “who is my neighbor.” Pope Francis often refers to this biblical masterpiece (Luke 10:25-37) as the divine image of the church’s mission in this world.
Across many lands and nations, the church does serve as a field hospital encountering and caring for those who are battered, bruised and beaten and left half dead on the side of the road.
The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are testimony to the fidelity of the church’s ministries. Jesus concluded the parable with his own question. “Who was neighbor to the man who fell in with robbers?” The answer was obvious and echoes through time, “the one who treated him with compassion.” “Go and do likewise” are the final words of Jesus addressed to the doctor of the law and to us.
The ultimate Good Samaritan, of course, is Jesus Christ who demonstrated the heart of service when he washed his disciples feet at the Last Supper. He concluded this astounding action with the mandate, “If I then your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done, so you must do.” (John 13: 14-15).

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

Our Lord’s actions, teachings, and parables ultimately point to the Cross and flow from it, where in the shedding of his blood he seeks to lift up all people who are assaulted by sin and remain half dead, or half alive on the margins of life. He is the divine physician and the church is his living body in this world, led by the Holy Spirit, to give freely of the gift of the Lord’s love that we have received.” (Matthew 10:8)
Moses, the great teacher of the Old Law, spoke blatantly to the Israelites in the first scripture reading from last Sunday, a teaching in accord with the Good Samaritan narrative. “This command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you … It’s not up in the sky that you should say who will go up to the sky to get it for us. Nor is it across the sea. No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you only have to carry it out.” (Deuteronomy 30:10-14)
To apply a well-known and likely over-used modern rendering of Moses’ words, the will of God is not rocket science, fellas; rather it is patient, kind and persevering and secured in the Lord’s instructions “to love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)
As an aside, at this time one million miles from earth, after a six-month journey, the James Webb telescope is spreading its wings to probe into the depths of the universe, past and present, in ways hitherto impossible to imagine. Women and men will take another giant step forward to unfold the mysteries of God’s creation, because this telescope, 25 years in the making, is 100 times more powerful than the Hubble telescope which ruled the roost since 1990, but only 340 miles above the earth’s surface.
Telescopes are absolutely essential to explore the mysteries of the physical universe, and it’s exciting to anticipate the pending discoveries. But they have no worth when exploring the mind and heart of Christ. As Moses said, we don’t have to go up into the sky to discover the will of God for our lives. We know it; we only have to carry it out.
On this weekend at our Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, we will celebrate Christ the Servant with the ordination of six men to the permanent diaconate who will serve in various parishes throughout our diocese. Specifically, the ministry of the deacon is a labor of loving service at the table of the Word of God, at the Altar of Sacrifice, and at the table of charity or compassion in daily life. The heart and soul of the diaconate is the call to make visible the love of Christ.
We give thanks to God for the deacons, spouses and families who have sacrificed these past five years in preparation for this ministry that has its roots in the apostolic life of the early church. But let us keep in mind that we are all called to fulfill our baptismal promises, the call to holiness, and the Lord’s mandatum to serve with his mind and heart because the risen Lord is in our midst “as one who serves.” (Luke 22:27)
The ugliness of this world regularly gets the headlines, and well before and during our Lord’s time, there were robbers and muggers around, but then and now we give thanks for the Good Samaritans of our lives who are vigilant in their care for others. May the Lord strengthen our resolve to be a light in the darkness at every turn in the road.

Saltillo Mission trip brings joyous adventure

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
The return after three years to our Saltillo Mission was a high-spirited and joyful adventure after nearly three years since the previous visit for the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Father Patrick Quinn’s missionary work in 1969. But many of you know of this pastoral visit through the social media networks of the Diocese of Jackson and the Diocese of Biloxi. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then you have already enjoyed multiple portrayals of the whirlwind of four days. It is amazing to consider the high volume of activity that occurs in such a compact timeframe. It can be exhausting and exhilarating over every bump on the road.

Let me digress a moment to treasure the source of the spiritual bond that continues to thrive between Mississippi and Saltillo even in the absence of overland mission trips.

In our Catholic world we are in the midst of celebrating the golden triangle of exceptional Solemnities beginning with Pentecost Sunday and the culmination of the Easter season, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, and the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord.

The gift of the Holy Spirit received in faith and celebrated uniquely at Pentecost opens up a world of mystery with our God who is love, the Holy Trinity of persons who overflowed in love in the gifts of creation and salvation. The celebration of Corpus Christi continues this outpouring of love poured out on the Cross and commemorated and lived each time we gather for Mass, the holy Eucharist.

The three feasts together reveal the nature of love within the Trinity which manifests itself in Christian community, unity, communion and fraternity in the Body of Christ throughout the world bonded by one faith, one baptism, one God who is Father who is over all and in all. Thus, the joy of solidarity and unity can overflow with every liturgy, with every fiesta, with every meal and with every conversation in all parts of our world.

From this fountain of faith, hope and love, we all cherish the history of these past 53 years, the memory of Father Quinn, and all who have given of themselves, from here and over there, whether for years or for weeks.

The Sacrament of Confirmation with 80 candidates was the culminating liturgy with Bishop Hilario Gonzales Garcia, the recently installed Ordinary of the Diocese of Saltillo. It was heartening to concelebrate with him around the altar, and to spend time at table afterwards.

One year into his episcopal ministry and he already has experienced the blessings of the relationship that Jackson and Biloxi have with his diocese. He fully supports what we are doing and hopes that we will accompany one another well into the future. We all hope that the day will come when the overland mission trips are able to resume, enabling the a new generation of Mississippi Catholics to be missionary disciples, evangelizing and being evangelized by our Mexican brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Amidst the many grace-filled moments, meals and ministries from Monday to Thursday evening’s Confirmation, there were various signature events. On Tuesday we celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation two hours out at Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Garambullo and then bounced back to a special liturgy at San Miguel’s that honored all fathers in attendance with a special blessing as the Mariachis played and sang full throated and unsparingly.

Afterwards, a fiesta followed honoring the young people who raised the most money for their individual parish communities. Various groups of entertainers, mostly young, performed splendidly in song, dance and gesture in a religious and cultural festival. Que Buena noche!

Wednesday saw another memorable event unfold before us in amazement. In route to St. Pedro’s for the Sacrament of Confirmation we gathered at St. Joseph’s Chapel which was dedicated three years ago on the last pastoral visit. After prayer and blessings, cars and trucks were organized into a procession that grew into a ‘flotilla on the road’ to San Pedro. You have seen some of the photos, and the entire experience was as joyful as it looked. The fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit were in abundance at the Confirmation that followed.

On Thursday prior to the Confirmation Bishop Kihneman and I, along with the other pilgrims from Jackson and Biloxi, visited the tomb of Father Quinn in the Church of Perpetuo Socorro. Over the past year the back walls of the church above his tomb have been covered with the photos that provide a panorama of the events, the people and the places of the Father Quinn years. It is well done and very touching.

While I stood there in admiration, I felt so grateful to have a part in this amazing story whose chapters are still being written, and to represent the faithful of our diocese who further the mission through prayer and generosity.

Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of San Miguel, the cornerstone parish of the mission since Father Quinn’s death, and the dates are on the calendar for the September 2023 anniversary celebration. Stay tuned!

Bishop Louis Kihnemann of Biloxi, Father David Martinez, pastor of San Miguel Mission and Bishop Joseph Kopacz wave during a procession on the road to San Pedro. (Photo Terry Dickson/Diocese of Biloxi)

Viaje a Misión de Saltillo trae alegre aventura

Por Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
El regreso después de tres años a nuestra Misión de Saltillo, desde la visita anterior por el 50 aniversario del inicio de la obra misionera del Padre Patrick Quinn en 1969, fue una aventura alegre y de mucho ánimo. Muchos de ustedes saben de esta visita pastoral a través de las redes sociales de las Diócesis de Jackson y de Biloxi. Si una imagen vale más que mil palabras, entonces ya has disfrutado de múltiples representaciones del torbellino de cuatro días. Es asombroso considerar el alto volumen de actividad que ocurre en un marco de tiempo tan compacto. Puede ser agotador y estimulante sobre cada bache del camino.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

Permítanme hacer una digresión por un momento para atesorar la fuente del vínculo espiritual que continúa prosperando entre Mississippi y Saltillo, incluso en ausencia de viajes misioneros por tierra.
En nuestro mundo católico, estamos en medio de la celebración del triángulo dorado de Solemnidades excepcionales que comienzan con el Domingo de Pentecostés y la culminación del tiempo de Pascua, la Solemnidad de la Santísima Trinidad y la Solemnidad del Cuerpo y la Sangre del Señor.

El don del Espíritu Santo recibido en la fe y celebrado de manera única en Pentecostés abre un mundo de misterio con nuestro Dios que es amor, la Santísima Trinidad de personas que desbordó en amor en los dones de la creación y la salvación. La celebración del Corpus Christi continúa esta efusión de amor derramada en la Cruz, conmemorada y vivida cada vez que nos reunimos para la Misa, la Sagrada Eucaristía.

Las tres fiestas juntas revelan la naturaleza del amor dentro de la Trinidad que se manifiesta en la comunidad cristiana, la unidad, la comunión y la fraternidad en el Cuerpo de Cristo en todo el mundo unidos por una fe, un bautismo, un Dios que es Padre que es todo y sobre todos. Así, la alegría de la solidaridad y la unidad puede desbordarse con cada liturgia, cada fiesta, cada comida y cada conversación en todas partes de nuestro mundo.

Desde esta fuente de fe, esperanza y amor, todos atesoramos la historia de estos últimos 53 años, la memoria del Padre Quinn y todos los que se han entregado, de aquí y allá, ya sea durante años o semanas.

El Sacramento de la Confirmación con 80 candidatos fue la liturgia culminante con el recién instalado ordinario Obispo Hilario Gonzales García, de la Diócesis de Saltillo. Fue alentador concelebrar con él alrededor del altar y pasar tiempo en la mesa después. Un año en su ministerio episcopal y ya ha experimentado las bendiciones de la relación que Jackson y Biloxi tienen con su diócesis. Él apoya totalmente lo que estamos haciendo y espera que nos acompañemos en el futuro.

Todos esperamos que llegue el día en que los viajes misioneros por tierra puedan reanudarse, permitiendo que una nueva generación de católicos de Mississippi sean discípulos misioneros, evangelizando y siendo evangelizados por nuestros hermanos y hermanas mexicanos en el Señor.

En medio de los muchos momentos llenos de gracia, comidas y ministerios de la Confirmación, del lunes al jueves por la noche hubo varios eventos emblemáticos. El martes celebramos el Sacramento de la Confirmación dos horas en Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe en Garambullo y luego regresamos a una liturgia especial en San Miguel que honró a todos los padres presentes con una bendición especial mientras los mariachis tocaban y cantaban a todo pulmón y sin piedad.

Luego, siguió una fiesta en honor a los jóvenes que recaudaron la mayor cantidad de dinero para sus comunidades parroquiales individuales. Diversos grupos de animadores, en su mayoría jóvenes, actuaron espléndidamente en canto, danza y gestualidad en una fiesta religiosa y cultural. ¡Qué Buena noche!

El miércoles vio otro evento memorable desarrollarse ante nosotros con asombro. De camino a San Pedro para recibir el Sacramento de la Confirmación, nos reunimos en la Capilla de San José, que fue dedicada hace tres años en la última visita pastoral. Después de la oración y las bendiciones, los autos y camiones se organizaron en una procesión que se convirtió en una flotilla en el camino a San Pedro. Espero hayas visto algunas de las fotos y toda la experiencia fue tan alegre como parecía. Los frutos y dones del Espíritu Santo abundaron en la Confirmación que siguió.

El jueves anterior a la Confirmación, el obispo Kihneman y yo, junto con otros peregrinos de Jackson y Biloxi visitamos la tumba del Padre Quinn en la Iglesia del Perpetuo Socorro. Durante el año pasado, las paredes traseras de la iglesia sobre su tumba se cubrieron con fotos que brindan un panorama de los eventos, las personas y los lugares de los años del padre Quinn. Está bien hecho y es muy conmovedor.
Mientras permanecía allí admirado, me sentí muy agradecido de ser parte de esta increíble historia cuyos capítulos aún se están escribiendo y de representar a los fieles de nuestra diócesis que promueven la misión a través de la oración y la generosidad.

El próximo año marcará el 25 aniversario de San Miguel, la parroquia fundamental de la misión desde la muerte del padre Quinn y las fechas están en el calendario para la celebración del aniversario de septiembre de 2023. ¡Manténganse al tanto!

El obispo Louis Kihnemann de la Diócesis de Biloxi, el padre David Martínez, párroco de la Misión de San Miguel y el obispo Joseph Kopacz de la diócesis de Jackson saludan a todos durante una procesión en el camino a San Pedro. (Fotos Terry Dickson/Diócesis de Biloxi)

Rally around the call to accompany expectant mothers

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
As Catholics we are in the midst of a nine-day Novena undertaken by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in preparation for the great feast of the Visitation on May 31. This second joyful mystery of the rosary recalls that tender scene when Mary and Elizabeth, two of the most well-known pregnant women in world history, encountered one another with unbounded joy in God their Savior. Even the “baby stirred in my womb for joy” Elizabeth exclaimed to her younger cousin who had arrived at Zachariah and Elizabeth’s doorstep to assist her who was in her sixth month with the unborn John the Baptist. Women helping women in preparation for birth and in the months following the emergence of new life from the womb into the light of day, is fundamental for family life, community, and civilization.

The need for caring support around a pregnancy and the earliest stage of life is fundamental for mothers and their infants, for family life, communities, and ultimately civilization. There are many in our churches and in our communities in Mississippi who rally around the call to accompany expectant mothers, and in the time following the birth of their children. We can only rejoice to see such loving support. For the Catholic Church, as the whole world knows, the right to life is fundamental because we are made in the image and likeness of God (Imago Dei). The dignity of the human person is rooted in this fundamental belief.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

What the whole world may not know, or chooses to ignore, is that the church commits herself, in season and out of season, to the well-being of the human person at every stage of life. This is evident in our social teachings that foster the common good, serve the poor, marginalized and vulnerable, champion health care, sponsor education, and support life’s basic needs: food, shelter and clothing and gainful employment. Moreover, in recent years, care for our common home, the earth, has become more urgent.

Pope Francis’ masterpiece, Laudato Si, rejoices in God the creator, and addresses this God-given obligation. When we add it all up it is all about what St. Paul eloquently states in his letter to the Romans. “The Kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking, but about justice and peace, and the joy of the Holy Spirit. (14:17)

Now back to the Visitation and the gift of unborn life that opened this column. The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States over the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is imminent and the prospect of overturning of Roe v. Wade is sending shock waves across the land from the White House to all points on the compass.

There is no doubt that this is an historic moment for our nation. The passion surrounding this life issue burns no less intensely than nearly 50 years ago when Roe v. Wade became the law of the land in 1973. There has been a creeping shadow ever since because at the core of our collective consciousness is a tortured conscience that is unable to reconcile a self-image of inherent goodness with the blood of the innocents. But whether Roe v Wade is overturned or rolled back, abortions will not cease, as we know. The political onus will return to the legislatures of the 50 states to enact laws going forward, and as we have already experienced, these laws will vary greatly.

Like the fires engulfing our western states, there will be widespread conflagrations that burn at the fault lines of our fractured society. The personal onus is another dimension, the terrain of conscience and conversion, challenging every individual to safeguard the gift of sexuality knowing there is freedom through boundaries, to cherish the gift of life, one’ own and the vulnerable in our midst, and to realize that violence against the unborn is at the root of the violence that roils our nation and world.

What can one person or one church do? “The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” (John 1:5) is the promise that our labors with God will always matter. Praying, serving, empowering and advocating are always relevant.

Pope Francis encourages encounter with the other and accompaniment, and a recent project worthy of praise in every Catholic diocese is “Walking with Moms in Need.” Whatever the ruling on Roe v Wade, the church in league with other networks is redoubling its efforts to accompany mothers, their preborn and children in the early stages of development so that they and we, like Mary and Elisabeth, can rejoice in the gift of life and in God our Savior.

Se unen en torno al llamado de acompañar a las futuras madres

Por Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
Como católicos, estamos en medio de una Novena de nueve días emprendida por la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos en preparación para la gran fiesta de la Visitación el 31 de mayo. Este segundo misterio gozoso del rosario recuerda esa tierna escena cuando María y Isabel, dos de las mujeres embarazadas más conocidas de la historia mundial, se encontraron con un gozo ilimitado en Dios su Salvador. Incluso el “bebé se agitó de alegría en mi vientre”, exclamó Isabel a su prima más joven que había llegado a la puerta de Zacarías e Isabel para ayudarla, que estaba en su sexto mes con el nonato Juan Bautista. Las mujeres ayudando a mujeres, en la preparación para el parto y en los meses posteriores a la salida de la nueva vida del útero a la luz del día, es fundamental para la vida familiar, comunitaria y de la civilización.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

La necesidad de apoyo cariñoso en torno al embarazo y la etapa más temprana de la vida es fundamental para las madres y sus bebés, la vida familiar, las comunidades y, en última instancia, la civilización. Hay muchos en nuestras iglesias y en nuestras comunidades en Mississippi que se unen en torno al llamado de acompañar a las futuras madres y en el tiempo posterior al nacimiento de sus hijos. Solo podemos regocijarnos al ver un apoyo tan amoroso. Para la Iglesia Católica, como todo el mundo sabe, el derecho a la vida es fundamental porque estamos hechos a imagen y semejanza de Dios (Imago Dei). La dignidad de la persona humana tiene sus raíces en esta creencia fundamental.

El mundo entero puede no saber o elegir ignorar que la iglesia se compromete, a tiempo y fuera de tiempo, con el bienestar de la persona humana en cada etapa de la vida. Esto es evidente en nuestras enseñanzas sociales que fomentan el bien común, sirven a los pobres, marginados y vulnerables, defienden la atención médica, patrocinan la educación y apoyan las necesidades básicas de la vida: alimentación, vivienda y vestido, y empleo remunerado. Además, en los últimos años, el cuidado de nuestra casa común, la tierra, se ha vuelto más urgente.

La obra maestra del Papa Francisco, Laudato Si, se regocija en Dios el creador y aborda esta obligación dada por Dios. Cuando sumamos todo, se trata de lo que San Pablo afirma con elocuencia en su carta a los Romanos. “Porque el reino de Dios no es cuestión de comer o beber determinadas cosas, sino de vivir en justicia, paz y alegría por medio del Espíritu Santo. (14:7)

Ahora volvamos a la Visitación y al don de la vida no nacida que abrió esta columna. La decisión de la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos sobre Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization es inminente y la posibilidad de anular Roe v. Wade está enviando ondas de choque por todo el país, desde la Casa Blanca hasta todos los puntos de la brújula.

No hay duda de que este es un momento histórico para nuestra nación. La pasión que rodea este tema de la vida arde no menos intensamente que hace casi 50 años cuando Roe v. Wade se convirtió en ley del país en 1973. Ha habido una sombra que se arrastra desde entonces porque en el centro de nuestra conciencia colectiva hay una conciencia torturada que es incapaz de reconciliar una imagen propia de bondad inherente con la sangre de los inocentes. Pero, ya sea que Roe v Wade sea anulado o revertido, los abortos no cesarán, como sabemos. La responsabilidad política volverá a las legislaturas de los 50 estados para promulgar leyes en el futuro y, como ya hemos experimentado, estas leyes variarán mucho.

Al igual que los incendios que envuelven a nuestros estados del oeste, habrá conflagraciones generalizadas que arderán en las fallas de nuestra sociedad fracturada. La responsabilidad personal es otra dimensión, el terreno de la conciencia y la conversión, que desafía a cada individuo a salvaguardar el don de la sexualidad sabiendo que hay libertad a través de las fronteras, a apreciar el don de la vida, la propia y la de los vulnerables entre nosotros y a darse cuenta de que la violencia contra los no nacidos está en la raíz de la violencia que agita a nuestra nación y al mundo.

¿Qué puede hacer una persona o una iglesia?

“Esta luz brilla en las tinieblas, y las tinieblas no han podido apagarla.” (Juan 1:5) es la promesa de que nuestro trabajo con Dios siempre importará. Orar, servir, empoderar y abogar son siempre relevantes. El Papa Francisco fomenta el encuentro con los demás y el acompañamiento y un proyecto reciente digno de elogio en todas las diócesis católicas como “Caminando con las mamás necesitadas.”

Cualquiera que sea el fallo de Roe v Wade, la iglesia, en connivencia con otras redes, está redoblando sus esfuerzos para acompañar a las madres, sus bebés antes de nacer y sus niños en las primeras etapas de desarrollo para que ellos y nosotros, como Mary y Isabel, podamos regocijarnos en el regalo de vida y en Dios nuestro Salvador.

Las asignaciones abren la puerta a una “nueva vida” para los pastores

Por Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
Con la imagen del Buen Pastor ante nosotros y con su voz resonando en nuestros corazones y mentes, al centro del tiempo Pascual, encomendemos los sacerdotes de nuestra diócesis a nuestro crucificado y resucitado Señor, aquellos que se esfuerzan por seguir sus pasos, especialmente aquellos que anticipan cambios en el tiempo que se avecina.

En particular, pedimos la bendición de Dios sobre el Diácono Andrew Bowden, a quien ordenare al sacerdocio de Jesucristo para la Diócesis de Jackson, este sábado 14 de mayo en nuestra Catedral de San Pedro Apóstol.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

Durante el último fin de semana del cuarto domingo de Pascua, que siempre está dedicado al Buen Pastor, una cohorte de nuestros sacerdotes se dirigió a sus congregaciones para informarles que serían transferidos, para pastorear otros rebaños que necesitan un pastor ya sea por jubilaciones o salidas en la Diócesis de Jackson.
Algunos están empacando y mudándose físicamente en una variedad de períodos de tiempo, mientras que otros permanecen en su lugar pero se esfuerzan generosamente para pastorear comunidades parroquiales adicionales. Como muchos saben, los cambios significativos en la vida no son fáciles y requieren mucho tiempo y energía.

El fin de semana pasado, con la imagen del Buen Pastor ante mí, reflexioné sobre las transiciones, durante los últimos 45 años, en mi vida como sacerdote y pude recordar los sentimientos que me atravesaron durante los cambios de asignación, incluso después de muchos años.

Hay un morir que ocurre, con cada cambio de lo que era, también con un sacerdote cuando deja una parroquia, donde conoce a muchos por su nombre y cuyas voces resuenan con los recuerdos de las experiencias pastorales del nacimiento y la muerte, y cada etapa intermedia. Lo desconocido que aguarda puede evocar sentimientos de ansiedad e incertidumbre.

Recuerdo un cambio en una asignación en la que la gente me dio una gran despedida una noche y a la mañana siguiente, el monaguillo de la Misa en la nueva parroquia me miró con curiosidad y me preguntó: “¿Cuál es tu nombre, por favor?” Sonreí interiormente en ese momento y dije: “sí, es un nuevo día.”

Es el ciclo de morir y resucitar que experimentamos en la muerte y resurrección del Buen Pastor. Para el sacerdote trasladado puede haber duelo en la separación y sin embargo un cambio de destino parroquial abre la puerta a una nueva vida en el pastoreo de las personas, familias y comunidades de fe que el Señor nos confía.

Con cada “dejarse llevar” y partir, aguarda una nueva vida. Aún así, no es fácil y lleva tiempo que todos se adapten, el nuevo pastor y la gente, para establecer relaciones de confianza, respeto y amor.

Que nuestra oración se eleve al cielo por todos nuestros sacerdotes a quienes el Señor llama para ser buenos pastores.

San Pedro exhortaba a los líderes pastorales de su época con las siguientes palabras: “Cuiden de las ovejas de Dios que han sido puestas a su cargo; háganlo de buena voluntad, como Dios quiere, y no forzadamente ni por ambición de dinero, sino de buena gana.” (1 Pedro 5:2)

En cualquier parroquia y circunstancia que nuestros sacerdotes y líderes pastorales nos encontremos, que podamos servir con el corazón y la mente de Jesucristo.

La voz del Señor es para todos los bautizados.

Assignments open door to ‘new life’ for shepherds

May our prayer rise up to
heaven for all of our priests whom the Lord calls to serve as
good shepherds.

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
With the image of the Good Shepherd before us in the center of the Easter season, and with his voice resounding in our hearts and minds, let us commend to our crucified and risen Lord the priests of our diocese who strive to follow in his footsteps, especially those who are anticipating changes in the time ahead.

In particular, we ask God’s blessing upon Deacon Andrew Bowden whom I will be ordaining to the priesthood of Jesus Christ for the Diocese of Jackson this Saturday, May 14 at our Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

Over last weekend on the fourth Sunday of Easter which is always dedicated to the Good Shepherd, a cohort of our priests addressed their congregations to inform them that they would be transferred to shepherd other flocks in the Diocese of Jackson who are in need of a pastor due to retirements or departures.

Some are packing up and physically leaving after assorted lengths of time, while others are remaining in place but are generously stretching themselves to shepherd additional parish communities. As many know, significant changes in life are not easy and require considerable time and energy.

Last weekend with the image of the Good Shepherd before me I reflected upon the transitions in my life as a priest over the past 45 years and could recall the feelings that coursed through me during assignment changes, even after many years.

There is a dying that occurs with every change to what was, and so too with a priest when he leaves one parish where he knows many by name and whose voices echo with the memories of pastoral experiences of birth and death, and every stage in between. The unknown that awaits can evoke anxious feelings and uncertainty.

I remember one change in assignment where the people gave me a great send-off one evening, and on the next morning the altar server at Mass in the new parish looked at me curiously and asked, “and what’s your name again?” I smiled inwardly in that moment and said, “yes, it’s a new day.”

It is the cycle of dying and rising that we experience in the death and resurrection of the Good Shepherd. For the transferred priest there could be grieving in the separation, and yet a change in a parochial assignment opens the door to new life in the shepherding of individuals, families and communities of faith whom the Lord entrusts to us.

With each “letting-go” and departure new life awaits. Still, it is not easy, and it takes time for everyone to adjust, the new pastor and people, in order to establish relationships of trust, respect and love.
May our prayer rise up to heaven for all of our priests whom the Lord calls to serve as good shepherds.
St. Peter exhorted the pastoral leaders of his day with the following words: “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly — not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.” (1Peter 5:2)

In whatever parish and circumstances our priests and pastoral leaders find ourselves, may we serve with the heart and mind of Jesus Christ.

The voice of the Lord is for all of the baptized.

Click here for list of pastoral assignments

Divine Mercy resonates grace of forgiveness, peace, reconciliation, hope and life

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
The Octave of Easter, the celebration of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead extends for eight days reaching its crescendo on the second Sunday, pastorally and prayerfully cherished as Divine Mercy Sunday.

The Gospel each year for this Sunday is John 21:19-31 when the risen Lord appeared twice to his apostles huddled in fear to bless them with peace, to bestow the Holy Spirit upon them, to restore their lives and to send them on mission. The second appearance in this setting was necessary because Thomas went missing for the first encounter and was still steeped in his shame, doubt, fear, and hopelessness. The resurrection narratives are written down and proclaimed in the words of the evangelist “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

Each year, the Divine Mercy of the crucified and risen Lord is invoked for the “whole world” and many worthy causes, and this year at the Cathedral we raised up in prayer the victims of sexual abuse in our church.

During the Synod process many in our diocese expressed a yearning for unity that acknowledges the necessity for healing on many fronts. Like the apostles, and especially St. Thomas, many in our church and society are hurting for numerous reasons. One grave reason that ensnares far too many is the crime of sexual abuse that continues to afflict victims and loved ones. Some at our parish and diocesan sessions brought to the fore the commitment of church leadership nearly twenty years ago to never lose sight of “The Promise to Protect and the Pledge to Heal.”

Over these past twenty years much has been accomplished through the development and strengthening of safe environments to fulfill the promise to protect our children and young people in church programs. Countless thousands have been educated to be vigilant not only in church settings, but also in their daily lives concerning the behaviors and circumstances that could be problematic for vulnerable children and youth. Never again can we be complacent because predators in all walks of life are always alert for the environmental soft spots that grant access to children.

Just as critical in the fulfillment of the church’s commitment is “The Pledge to Heal,” lest we forget those who are suffering the unspeakable assaults of sexual abuse against their human dignity. Divine Mercy Sunday resonates with the grace of forgiveness, peace, reconciliation, hope and life. It’s twofold. The apostles, the first church leaders, had abandoned and denied their Lord, and they needed the grace of mercy and a new beginning. “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world,” is a plea for God’s mercy upon church leadership who were perpetrators, or who allowed the abuse to continue.

The more heartfelt prayer is for the mercy of God to bathe those who have been harmed with healing and hope, peace and new life. When we hear Jesus’ invitation to Thomas to place his finger in the nail marks and his hand into the pierced side, we know that God desires healing for all who are broken and beaten down from sexual abuse and who yearn for new life to touch the healing power of God’s mercy in Jesus Christ. This resurrection moment was announced by the Lord Jesus at the outset of his public ministry in St. Luke’s Gospel. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to bring release to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and set the oppressed go free.” (Luke 4:18) These words of the Lord are the fundamental work of the church, and the heart of the “pledge to heal.”

There are many paths to new life in the Body of Christ and our prayer on Divine Mercy Sunday was that we never tire of praying for and accompanying our grievously harmed brothers and sisters on the path of life to him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

La Divina Misericordia resuena con la gracia del perdón, la paz, la reconciliación, la esperanza y la vida

Por Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
La Octava de Pascua, la celebración de la resurrección del Señor de entre los muertos, se extiende durante ocho días alcanzando su crescendo el segundo domingo, celebrado pastoralmente y en oración como el Domingo de la Divina Misericordia.

El Evangelio de cada año para este domingo es Juan 21:19-31 cuando el Señor resucitado se apareció dos veces a sus apóstoles acurrucados por el miedo para bendecirlos con la paz, para infundirles el Espíritu Santo, restaurarles la vida y enviarlos a una misión.

La segunda aparición en este escenario fue necesaria porque Tomas desapareció durante el primer encuentro y todavía estaba sumido en su vergüenza, duda, miedo y desesperanza. Los relatos de la resurrección están escritos y proclamados con las palabras del evangelista “… para que ustedes crean que Jesús es el Mesías, el Hijo de Dios, y para que creyendo tengan vida por medio de él.” (Juan 20:31)

Cada año se invoca, para el “mundo entero” y muchas causas nobles, la Divina Misericordia del Señor crucificado y resucitado. Este año en la Catedral levantamos en oración a las víctimas de abuso sexual en nuestra iglesia.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

Durante el proceso del Sínodo, muchos en nuestra diócesis expresaron un anhelo de unidad que reconoce la necesidad de sanación en muchos frentes. Al igual que los apóstoles, y especialmente Santo Tomás, muchos en nuestra iglesia y sociedad están sufriendo por numerosas razones. Una razón grave, que atrapa a demasiados, es el delito de abuso sexual que continúa afligiendo a las víctimas y a sus seres queridos. Algunas de nuestras sesiones parroquiales y diocesanas destacaron el compromiso del liderazgo de la iglesia, hace casi veinte años, de nunca perder de vista “La Promesa de Proteger y el Compromiso de Sanar.”

Durante estos últimos veinte años, se ha logrado mucho a través del desarrollo y fortalecimiento de entornos seguros para cumplir la promesa de proteger a nuestros niños y jóvenes en los programas de la iglesia. Innumerables miles han sido educados para estar atentos no solo en los entornos de la iglesia, sino también en su vida diaria con respecto a los comportamientos y circunstancias que podrían ser problemáticos para los niños y jóvenes vulnerables.

Nunca más podemos ser complacientes porque los depredadores, en todos los ámbitos de la vida, siempre están alerta a los puntos débiles ambientales que permiten el acceso a los niños.

Tan importante como el cumplimiento del compromiso de la iglesia es “La Promesa de Sanar” para que no olvidemos a aquellos que están sufriendo los ataques indescriptibles del abuso sexual contra su dignidad humana. El Domingo de la Divina Misericordia resuena con la gracia del perdón, la paz, la reconciliación, la esperanza y la vida. Doblemente.

Los apóstoles, los primeros líderes de la iglesia, habían abandonado y negado a su Señor, y necesitaban la gracia de la misericordia y un nuevo comienzo. “Por Su dolorosa Pasión, ten piedad de nosotros y del mundo entero,” es una súplica a la misericordia de Dios sobre los líderes de la iglesia, que fueron perpetradores, o aquellos que permitieron que continuara el abuso.

La oración más sincera es que la misericordia de Dios bañe, a todos los que han sido dañados, con sanidad y esperanza, paz y vida nueva. Cuando escuchamos de Jesús la invitación a Tomás de poner su dedo en las marcas de los clavos y su mano en el lado abierto, sabemos que Dios desea sanar a todos los que están quebrantados y golpeados por el abuso sexual y que anhelan una nueva vida, para tocar el poder sanador de la misericordia de Dios en Jesucristo.

Este momento de resurrección fue anunciado por el Señor Jesús al comienzo de su ministerio público en el Evangelio de San Lucas. “El Espíritu del Señor está sobre mí, porque me ha consagrado para llevar la buena noticia a los pobres; me ha enviado a anunciar libertad a los presos y dar vista a los ciegos; a poner en libertad a los oprimidos.” (Lucas 4:18)

Estas palabras del Señor son la obra fundamental de la Iglesia y el corazón de la “promesa de sanar.”
Hay muchos caminos hacia una nueva vida en el Cuerpo de Cristo y nuestra oración en el Domingo de la Divina Misericordia fue que nunca nos cansemos de orar y de acompañar a nuestros hermanos y hermanas, gravemente dañados, en el camino de la vida hacia Él que es el Camino, la Verdad y la Vida.

Chrism Mass calls to the faithful to invoke Spirit of God

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
Welcome back to the beauty and joy of our Chrism Mass to celebrate our unity as the People of God in the Diocese of Jackson, to celebrate the renewal of the priesthood, and the blessing and consecration of the holy oils, all under the loving gaze of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the church at Holy Mass. This is our custom, and we are joyful to reclaim it after three years. It’s been that expanse of time since the Cathedral brimmed with the faithful, yearning to gather once again in the fullness of our Catholic faith. On this day the Scripture is fulfilled in our hearing because the Spirit of the Lord is upon us in whom we have been anointed through faith and Baptism.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

The Gospel of St. Luke is the centerpiece of God’s Word for this Liturgical year. Likewise, Luke’s Good News is the cornerstone for our process of synodality which has touched every corner of our diocese over the past several months. The traditional Gospel passage for the Chrism Mass, Jesus’ inaugural address, is also the inspired Word for our regional gatherings, because the anointing of the Spirit of the Lord is the engine that drives renewal and a Year of Favor, liturgically and pastorally, a gift that the world is incapable of giving nor sustaining.

As we gather in Eucharistic unity and solidarity, it is important for us to know and cherish that one of the dominant themes and hopes expressed throughout the diocese in the synod process is a deep-rooted desire for healing and unity. On the one hand, this yearning identifies the loss, pain, and broken relationships from the pandemic’s impact. Beyond this brokenness, the cry of the human spirit for healing and unity, the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s Anointing, also arises from the divisions that plague our church and society, the violence and killings in our communities, the wars that assault the dignity of the human person made in God’s image and likeness, the pain of the victims of sexual abuse, those who still languish and long for healing, and the hurts and struggles that burden the faithful who are in need of reconciliation.

This pervasive woundedness is the bad fruit of sin, original and personal, in the church, in family life, and in the world. Pope Francis is wise when he observes that the church at its core is a field hospital, providing healing and hope for humanity, spiritually and physically.

We grieve these assaults against God’s gift of life, but we do so with hope because of the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ in his life-giving death and resurrection. He died to set free those oppressed by sin and injustice, and we have the power and means to do so.

We are an Emmaus people whom the Lord accompanies on the road to redirect our path when we are lost; he remains with us in the Eucharist, in the breaking of the bread through the shedding of his blood on the Cross.

We have the Anointing of the Spirit of the Lord for the blessing and consecration of our Holy Oils, circulating far and wide a season of refreshment and a Year of Favor from the Lord. It is the church as the Good Samaritan pouring in oil and wine, walking the extra mile, and not counting the cost, in order to accomplish the Lord’s mission to foster enduring and eternal freedom, to be a light in the darkness, and to be the Good News of healing and unity It is a mighty task, and in moments of grace, we know that there is no better way to live.

In the midst of God’s dream for humanity, and in the heart of the church is the priest who is Minister of the Word, the Good News of Jesus Christ, Steward of the Sacred Mysteries, the Sacraments and Servant-Leader. Priests with all of the baptized, in good times and in bad, rejoice and struggle, give thanks and ask forgiveness, and seek community and friendship with the Lord, with brother priests, and with the people of God.

In recent times especially, I am grateful to God for the generosity and perseverance of our priests who are walking the extra mile in service to the Lord and God’s people, and in many instances for their esprit de corps as they rally around each other in fraternal support. I thank many throughout our diocese who care for and pray for the priest in their midst. In particular, I give a shout-out to our retired priests who continue to bear the heat of the day, so to speak, stretching themselves in service to the Lord and to the People of God. Thank you! You are an inspiration!

The Chrism Mass celebrates the conviction every year that working in the Lord’s vineyard is the responsibility of all the baptized. The synod process brought home this standard time and again. At the Easter Vigil and on Easter Sunday, the renewal of the promises of Baptism throughout the universal church recommits all of us to the Lord Jesus’ mission and vision first proclaimed in the Synagogue at Nazareth and sealed in his death and resurrection.

But on this day in the Diocese of Jackson, in a focused and intentional way, the church calls upon the faithful to invoke the Spirit of God to bless our priests who renew their vows to the Lord, their unity with me, their bishop, and their commitment to the Body of Christ. Uniquely, they were anointed, configured to Christ the High Priest, and set apart to serve the deepest yearnings of the faithful for healing and unity. They need your prayers to support their best intentions in order to live their vocations, faithfully and fruitfully, as ministers of God’s Word, stewards of God’s mysteries, and servant-leaders. Thank you for your faith, hope, and love.